NEW YORK, 22nd September, 2016 (WAM) – World leaders, heads of the World Bank Group and the International Labour Organization (ILO) are joining forces to guarantee social protection is made available for all.

The creation of the new Global Partnership for Universal Social Protection, announced during the UN General Assembly week, aims to help countries reach all poor and vulnerable groups with a variety of measures to ensure that no people lack access to key forms of support when needed.

Speaking at the meeting, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said, “Social protection is a means to reduce poverty, achieve greater gender equity, reduce economic inequalities, and to promote good jobs. While many developing countries are already achieving universal schemes designed to ensure that nobody is left behind, only one in five poor people in the lowest-income countries is covered by any form of social protection today. It is profoundly significant that we have come together collectively to help countries close these coverage gaps.”

Universal social protection coverage is well aligned with the World Bank Group’s twin goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity in the world by 2030, and is also at the core of the ILO’s mandate, guided by its standards, including the Social Protection Floors Recommendation adopted by 185 states in 2012.

Data released by members of the partnership on Wednesday showed that more than 30 low- and middle-income countries have enacted universal or near universal social protection programmes. Over 100 other countries are scaling-up social protection and fast-tracking expansion of benefits to new population groups. Universal social protection is most commonly made available as part of old-age pensions. These examples demonstrate that universal social protection is feasible for other countries, especially low- and middle-income states.

Director-General of the UN’s International Labour Organisation, Guy Ryder, praised the efforts of these countries on all continents.

“Our shared objective is to increase the number of countries that provide universal social protection, supporting countries to design and implement universal and sustainable social protection systems,” Ryder said.

The ILO estimates that a complete social protection floor package for all vulnerable groups, from children and mothers to older persons, would cost between 1 and 5 per cent of GDP in a large number of middle income economies.

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 1.3 calls for nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all by 2030.